Gillum, Spresser headed to Fort Hays
By AUSTIN COLBERT
PLAINVILLE -- Plainville's Hadley Gillum and Hoxie's Kade Spresser get to see each other fairly regularly. Spresser's family does a lot of farming and often heads to Plainville to sell cattle, where Gillum's father, Ty, runs the Plainville Livestock Commission.
Gillum finds himself in Hoxie from time to time for family reasons, as his grandmother lives in the town about an hour from Plainville. A grandma he shares with Spresser, who also happens to be his cousin. Gillum's father and Spresser's mother are siblings.
But the bond that unites Gillum and Spresser the most is the game of basketball.
"We have played since fourth or fifth grade," Spresser said. "We played together off and on. We played a lot when we were younger, but it's been kind of different since we go to different high schools."
Both players have had incredible high school careers. The seniors each led their team to a state runner-up finish this season -- Plainville in Class 2A and Hoxie in Class 1A Division I -- with Spresser's season highlighted by a 76-61 win over Plainville on Feb. 11, only the second high school meeting between the cousins.
Going forward, the two likely will never play each other again. Instead, they will be playing alongside each other as members of the Fort Hays State University men's basketball team.
"I'm privileged to be on the team and to play with my cousin. I made that decision because of him," Spresser said.
"It's pretty awesome. I don't think very many people have the opportunity to experience play with someone close at that level."
Both players signed their National Letter of Intent this week to play for the Tigers. Each had been recruited heavily by area junior colleges, with Colby Community College a close second choice, especially for Gillum.
Ultimately the decision came down to FHSU being a four-year school, with the idea of staying in the same program a full four years being a big draw.
"I looked at Colby pretty heavily and could have went there a year, but I just decided I'd rather get into a program, stay in it, and be in there longer," Gillum said. "Coach (Mark) Johnson, he always produces a pretty good team. I like how he goes about it with his kids. He teaches good fundamentals to everybody."
Gillum, a 6-foot-4 forward, averaged 21 points and 14.5 rebounds per game as a senior for the 23-3 Cardinals under first-year coach Chris Drees, who coached Gillum his freshman year at Palco High School before Gillum transferred.
Drees sees tremendous upside in Gillum's game and believes it should translate well to Division II basketball.
"I think his perimeter game is only going to get better. His ball handling is going to get better. I'm excited to see his growth and development because I think he is going to really flourish," Drees said. "I'm happy he gets to go play for a coach like Mark Johnson because he is a phenomenal coach in that league and in the nation. I think he's a good fit and they are a good fit for each other."
Spresser, 6-foot-1 guard, averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds a game as a senior. Now the cousins hope to become a dynamic pair for the FHSU basketball team in the near future and can plan on seeing a lot more of each other when they move to Hays.
"The presentation of that program at Fort Hays is very good. Coach Johnson is truly a gentleman. I've heard nothing but good things about him and that's just the cornerstone of a good team," Ty Gillum said. "We are delighted that (Hadley) has chosen Fort Hays. ... As far as him and his choice of basketball, that dream probably started when he was 4 years old. He naturally has some abilities and he's pursued that."